After Quran burning, Sweden okays Bible burning in front of Israeli embassy

Two weeks after Quran burning in front of Stockholm mosque, police grant permission to a local activist to burn a copy of Hebrew Bible; Israeli officials sharply condemn 'blatant incitement'

Swedish police approved on Friday a locals request to burn the Hebrew Bible on Saturday in front of the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm, two and a half weeks after allowing another activist to burn the Quran in front of a major mosque in the Swedish capital, sparking immense anger toward Sweden in the Muslim world.
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The identity of the individual requesting to burn the Hebrew Bible is unclear, but it seems that he also intends to do so in order to challenge Sweden's commitment to the principle of freedom of expression, a principle that led it to approve the burning of the Quran as well.
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(Photo: Shutterstock)
Muslim and Jewish leaders are working behind the scenes to dissuade the individual from carrying out the burning, but to no avail.
Rabbi Moshe David HaCohen, who heads an umbrella organization of Jewish groups in Nordic states and the Amanah Muslim Jewish Partnership of Trust, emphasized that this is not an antisemitic event or one specifically targeting Jews.
"It is an attempt to challenge freedom of expression and exploit it for acts of hatred. The individual wants to see if the system is biased and whether it will permit the burning of the Bible just as it allowed the burning of the Quran. In Sweden, freedom of expression is considered a sacred value,” he said.
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פעיל במהלך הפגנה שבה הצית שרף קוראן מולך מסגד ב שטוקהולם שבדיה
פעיל במהלך הפגנה שבה הצית שרף קוראן מולך מסגד ב שטוקהולם שבדיה
A Swedish activist desecrates a Quran in front of mosque in Stockholm
(Photo: AFP)
“The Jewish community opposed the burning of the Quran and stands alongside the Muslim community. In recent days, we have been working diligently with Muslim leadership to prevent this from happening, and we hope to succeed."
Israel's Ambassador to Sweden Zvi Nevo Kulman said in a tweet, “I utterly condemn the burning of holy books sacred to any religion, as an act of hate and disrespect, that has nothing to do with freedom of expression.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli appealed to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last week in a letter, requesting that he intervene to prevent the burning of the Bible, which he equated to Nazi book burnings.
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עמיחי שיקלי בכנס AJC
עמיחי שיקלי בכנס AJC
Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli
(Photo: Moti Kimchi)
However, the government did not intervene in the matter and Kristersson himself declared before the Quran burning incident that he would leave the decisions regarding such matters to the law enforcement authorities.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billström responded to Chikli, assuring him that the Swedish government strongly rejects all acts of antisemitism and of its commitment to combating antisemitism.
However, he added that freedom of expression is a constitutional right and that decisions regarding such acts are deferred to local law enforcement authorities.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry also joined in the condemnation. "Israel strongly condemns the intention to burn a Bible in front of the Israeli Embassy in Sweden. Burning holy books is an act of hatred and intolerance and has nothing to do with freedom of expression. We call on the authorities in Sweden to prevent the burning of holy books," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat tweeted.
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שר החוץ אלי כהן פגישה עם שר החוץ של יוון יורגוס יראפטריטיס באתונה
שר החוץ אלי כהן פגישה עם שר החוץ של יוון יורגוס יראפטריטיס באתונה
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen
(Photo: Reuters/Louiza Vradi)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen instructed his ministry and Ambassador Kulman to take action to prevent the event.
"Burning a Torah scroll is a hate crime, a provocation and a severe affront to the Jewish people and the Jewish tradition. I call on the authorities in Sweden to prevent this disgraceful event and not allow the burning of a Torah scroll. I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden, Ziv Nevo Kulman, and the Foreign Ministry to take all necessary measures to prevent this shameful event," said Minister Cohen.
Under the guidance of the foreign minister, Aliza Ben-Nun, head of the Diplomatic Corps, spoke with the Swedish ambassador to Israel and emphasized the severity with which Israel views the police approval for an attack on Jewish sacred texts.
President Isaac Herzog tweeted, "I unequivocally condemn the permission granted in Sweden to burn holy books. As the President of the State of Israel, I condemned the burning of the Quran, sacred to Muslims world over, and I am now heartbroken that the same fate awaits a Jewish Bible, the eternal book of the Jewish people.
Permitting the defacement of sacred texts is not an exercise in freedom of expression, it is blatant incitement and an act of pure hate. The whole world must join together in clearly condemning this repulsive act.”
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